Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I usually enjoy Ted Rall’s Opinion essays, but I didn’t fancy his September 27 article “Mandatory organ donation.” Even though he writes as he usually does, provocatively and tongue in cheek, there are serious people among us who serious propose this dystopian stupidity. While I understand the claim that the pressing need for organ donations justifies a strategy as radical as government confiscation of our corpses, the weak point for me is Rall’s assertion that “It isn’t a property rights issue. You don’t own your
corpse.” On the contrary, that’s exactly the point. We DO own our own bodies, in life and in death. My claim to ownership of my body, dead and alive, trumps anyone’s claims on me. I do not consider death disqualifying because I do not equate the expiration of life with the expiration of human rights and the due process of law. Wills recognize that principle, and I think we can expand on it. Since the dead cannot defend themselves it is fitting for the law to do it for them and recognize ownership rights. One’s body is part of one’s physical postmortem estate. In many ways the living will benefit from the precedent of the conservation of government’s reach into private life.
The claim that nothing matters to individuals after death and so what’s the difference anyway? misses the point. It does matter to thoughtful souls.
Of course, I sound silly, as well as selfish and callous towards those who die every day desperate for an organ transplant. What of their suffering? Sorry, but everyone dies. Get used to it. I am the very definition of compassion, but our allotment of time is an immutable act of God. People now are so intoxicated with their own egotism that they can’t sanction the idea of dying without advantage, disappearing into the smoke after a display of great noise and fire. Suddenly the decision to donate organs appears to harbor a bit of selfishness in the guise of altruism.
Published on Thursday, October 3, 2013 as "Rights to our body after death."
I was happy to see my September 27 letter about Ted Rall’s essay “Mandatory organ donation” printed on Thursday, October 3rd as “Rights to our body after death.” It is my 165th published Japan Times letter.
However I was a little put out by the editorial staff’s invention of something now attributed to my name. In my letter I wrote that the living will benefit from a legal recognition of the sovereign integrity of the deceased’s selfhood, a principle already somewhat acknowledged in the legal recognition of the deceased’s will, and also benefit from the conservation of government’s eminent domain. I meant “will” in that the living are certain to reap such benefits. But the editorial staff rendered the sentence as “In many ways, the “living will” benefits from the precedent of the conservation of government’s reach into private life.” I never wrote anything about living wills. I never considered it. That is a fabrication by someone on the editorial staff.
I was confused when I read the letter in the paper, wondering “What the ...?” The sentence as published doesn’t quite make sense.